Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2011

Ismailis and the Pamiri Home

In earlier posts, we made mention of the Ismailis and their Pamiri houses, to which we are so frequently invited for a modest cup of tea (which is short for a very extensive luncheon with never ending spreads of local foods, always accompanied by hot tea).

The traditional Pamiri home (huneuni chid) consists of a large, five pillared room with raised areas around four sides of what can only be described as a central “pit”. In the winter, this pit contains a wooden stove which is warming the room and keeps the tea- and soup pots boiling. Apart from the main room, there is an entrance area (leave your shoes here, you always enter on your socks) and ,often, a private, smaller living space and hallway; the main room is where all the activities take place. This is where the extended family (and their honored guests) sleeps, eats, studies, watches television and entertains.
There are few, if any, windows. Illumination comes through an artfully designed skylight in the roof (the chimney of t…


'Dead! Dead! Dead'! I call out every morning on the walk to work. He lifts his head wearily from under his tail, looks at me as if to say 'Not again!' curls into an even tighter ball against the bitter cold and returns to his favourite game of playing corpse. Jelte just doesn't like the word "dead". He'd rather I use 'canis mortis'. Whatever; 'dead' is 'dead' is 'dead'. When we arrived in October, the sun was shining; we walked around in light sweaters and jackets and the ever-present, countless dogs played 'dead' in the autumn heat, refusing to move as much as a hair, so that one was forced to manoeuvre around them. So, as far as I'm concerned, all Khorog dogs are called 'Dead'. Our nearest 'dead' neighbour guards the home next door to us. He's a big, blond mix with ears intact. The only use the Pamiris appear to have for Man's best friend is for 'burglar alarms'. Those dogs …